There has been a lot written about the Dallas Cowboys’ offense and defense, but there has not been a lot of mention about their special teams. Most writers and fans don’t really talk about or think about the third phase of the game anywhere near how they talk about the other two. If a team can win on special teams, sometimes it can mean a win in the game. While we all know the problems Dallas has had getting punts to return, there are some opportunities for the Dallas Cowboys to be special.
First, the kickers for the Dallas Cowboys are actually some of the best in the NFL. Dan Bailey was 100% on extra points last year and 4th in FG average at 93.3%, missing only two last season. Getting Bailey into FG range can only help the Cowboys and can help put points on the board. While Chris Jones wasn’t exactly amazing, he was 8th for punts inside the 20 and 2nd in fair catches. If the offense can move the ball to allow Jones to reach inside the 20, he is one of the better punters in the game.
It is the return game where the Dallas Cowboys can shine. Dwayne Harris had an insane 30.6 yard average on kickoff returns and pretty good 12.8 yards per punt return. While the team only had one return punt for a TD, the ability to gain yards helps the offense in the field position battle. The problem is that on the other side of Harris there was not much in terms of kick returners. The addition of Devin Street and maybe one of the undrafted rookies with speed could help this problem. If the Dallas Cowboys can get someone even close to Harris’ ability to return kickoffs, this team could be downright scary on kickoffs. While Cole Beasley did get some attempts on punts, Dwayne Harris is still the go to guy on punt returns as well. Having another option could allow Harris and Beasley to focus on playing WR a little more and not have to be on both special teams and offense as well.
Where the Cowboys need to improve the most is punt team defense. While the kickoff team had a pretty good 20.8 yard average return on them, the punt team gave up 12.5 yards per return. If Rich Bisaccia can tighten up that part of special teams the Dallas Cowboys can rank in the top 5 in the league in special teams across the board. Some of the additions this offseason can and will help on the improvement of the special teams, I hope there is some extra work at training camp to solidify this part of the team.
So with such little talk of the Dallas Cowboys Special teams, it is actually a strength of this team. Let me know in the comments who you think should be the returner on the other side of Harris. I am interested to hear who you all think can win the job.